The MacKinnon Collection goes on tour

Visitors from all across Scotland will get the chance to enjoy the MacKinnon Collection, with a national tour set to take place in three Scottish locations across the country from later this year.

Exhibitions showcasing these remarkable photographic documents of Scotland’s social and cultural history will commence in Kirkcudbright at Kirkcudbright Galleries before heading to Museum nan Eilean in Lews Castle in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, before culminating in Duff Hose in Banff in 2021. The nationwide tour starts in September 2020 and further information will be released in due course.

The MacKinnon Collection was jointly acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland in 2018, with assistance from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government and Art Fund. The collection was slowly acquired by photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon and began when he ran a successful chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, starting from his pharmacy in Dyce, near Aberdeen. The images celebrate Scottish life and identity from the 1840s through to the 1940s and feature some of the earliest and most significant photographs not only in Scottish photography history, but in the history of photography itself.

Many of the first practitioners and visionaries who pushed the medium forward were based in Scotland or were inspired by Scottish subjects, and their works are on display in the exhibition. These include photographs by William Henry Fox Talbot, David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Julia Margaret Cameron, Thomas Annan, Roger Fenton, James ValentineGeorge Washington Wilson, and others who created stunning images of Scotland’s people and places and established precedents for photographers worldwide.

In a recent review, The Scotsman’s art critic Duncan MacMillan hailed the MacKinnon Collection as, “an extraordinary record of Scotland’s past, from the beginnings of photography until around 1940s” and awarded five stars to both the National Galleries and National Library’s displays.

The MacKinnon Collection has begun to be digitised by both the Galleries and Library and digitisation of the entire trove of photographs will be completed in 2021.

The MacKinnon Collection was acquired jointly with the National Library of Scotland with assistance from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government and the Art Fund.

By Harris Brine, 11 February 2020